The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Higher Education Administration: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Steven McCullar

Second Advisor

Michael Mills

Third Advisor

Wanda Overland

Fourth Advisor

Ellyn Bartges

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

student affairs, spirituality, spiritual identity, authentic self


While scholarly research has documented an increased interest in spirituality by college students and investigated the way spirituality influences faculty and students of various worldviews, research had yet to extensively examine the spirituality of student affairs practitioners. Accordingly, this study sought to understand the factors that influence how student affairs practitioners live out spiritual authenticity at work, including in their conversations with students.

The study was based on a qualitative research design, including semi-structured interviews with ten student affairs practitioners working in public higher education in a Midwestern state, and the spiritual development theories of James Fowler and Sharon Daloz Parks. The following research questions informed this study: How do student affairs practitioners integrate spirituality into their work? To what extent do student affairs practitioners feel they bring their authentic self to work? What factors influence student affairs practitioners’ conversations with students regarding spirituality?

The study suggested student affairs practitioners’ spiritual identity at work is complex and influenced by many factors. Likewise, societal, institutional, professional, and personal issues create challenges for having spiritual conversations with students.



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